American Ginseng, in the Forest and in the Marketplace

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a plant of great value. Tens of thousands of pounds are harvested from the wild each year. But the average harvest amount has dwindled, while price has skyrocketed. “It’s pretty unusual that the more effort put towards producing something, the less is produced,” says USDA Forest Service researcher Greg Frey.…  More 

Red Spruce Restoration

The study of how, or if, a species is genetically adapted to its environment is called genecology. USDA Forest Service plant physiologists Kurt Johnsen and John Butnor, with biological scientist Chris Maier, are conducting genecology and molecular genetic studies across the range of red spruce (Picea rubens) in a cooperative study with Steve Keller of…  More 

Timing Prescribed Fire to Maximize Longleaf Pine Growth

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) needs fire to thrive. But if seedlings burn too late in the growing season, they may not have enough energy to re-grow their scorched leaves and replenish their starch reserves before spring of the next year. “When seedlings are so short that a prescribed fire is likely to scorch all of…  More 

FIA in the U.S. Virgin Islands

The 49th Annual Agriculture and Food Fair of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Agrifest, was held on the island of St. Croix in February. Agrifest is the largest agriculture and food explosion and celebration in the Caribbean – drawing thousands of fairgoers from around the world. USDA Forest Service scientists Tom Brandeis, Humfredo Marcano-Vega, and Kathleen…  More 

Digging Deep for Crayfish Clues

Kneeling in a wet prairie, arm extended to the armpit in a muddy hole, most biologists would quickly arrive at the thought, “There’s got to be a better way.” So it’s not surprising that, when it comes to sampling for burrowing crayfishes, researchers have devised some creative solutions. In the southeastern U.S. – the global…  More 

Black Locust & Drought

With its symbiotic bacteria, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) makes its own nitrogen fertilizer – and can share it with other tree species. “In early successional temperate forests, symbiotic nitrogen fixation is often the main source of new nitrogen,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Chelcy Miniat. But drought could slow the rate of symbiotic nitrogen fixation,…  More 

Genetics of Shortleaf and Longleaf Pine in Seed Orchards

Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems have been dwindling for decades. Restoration is a huge priority for the USDA Forest Service, the Longleaf Pine Alliance, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative, and many others. Restoration requires seed, and on National Forest System lands the seed comes from USDA Forest Service seed orchards. The…  More 

Workshop on Shortleaf Pine in the Southern Appalachians

On March 3 and 4, 2020, about 25 silviculturists, foresters, fire management officers, timber specialists, and other USDA Forest Service experts gathered for a two-day workshop on shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). In the southern Appalachians, shortleaf pine restoration is a major priority for national forests and others. The species has an extensive range but its…  More 

Silviculture to Restore Southern Fire-Adapted Pines

Native, mature southern pine ecosystems are dwindling on the landscape, and the plants and animals that depend upon them are in trouble as well. “Living and working in Arkansas, I sometimes forget that shortleaf pine as far as the eye can see is uncommon outside of this area,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jim Guldin.…  More 

New Seed Orchards Installed with Camcore

Andy Whittier has collected hundreds of thousands of seeds during his 17 years with Camcore and the USDA Forest Service. Whittier regularly tests seed germination rates in order to evaluate their quality. That’s how he ended up with 1,200 Eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) in a greenhouse in Waynesville, North Carolina. The hemlocks were healthy three-year-old…  More